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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A ninth-inning rally by the Tennessee baseball team fell two runs short Tuesday night as the Volunteers fell to Lipscomb by a score of 6-4 at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen Lee Marsh Stadium. A facility-record crowd of 1,414 saw UT’s eight-game win streak come to an end as the Vols fell to 12-5 on the year.
Tennessee scored a pair of runs on RBI singles by Shawn Griffin and Jeff Lockwood in the top of the ninth, but Bisons reliever Chris Burnett held on to log his second save of the year. Kyle Tognazzini picked up the win for Lipscomb by simply recording the final out in the top of the eighth.
The teams combined to strand 22 runners Tuesday, with UT leaving a dozen men on base. Each team also belted out 10 hits. It was Lipscomb’s first-ever victory over the Vols, and Tennessee now leads the series 5-1, dating to 1979.
Vols second baseman Andy Simunic drew a leadoff walk from Lipscomb starting pitcher Josh Smith in the top of the first inning, and Simunic was quickly driven in on an RBI double by freshman centerfielder Kentrail Daviswho entered the game ranked third in the Southeastern Conference with a .467 batting average.
The Bisons (8-8) threatened in the bottom of the second, putting a pair of runners in scoring position with no outs. Tennessee starting pitcher Joey Rosas then recorded a strikeout, and a smart defensive play by UT third baseman Cody Brown on a bunt attempt temporarily prevented any damage while notching the second out of the frame. Brown fielded a bunt by Brandon Cadavid, looked Blake Bratcher back to third base and then fired a quick throw to first to retire Cadavid.
But Cadavid managed to scamper home during the next at-bat on a passed ball, tying the game at 1-1. Rosas logged his third strikeout of the game later in the inning to strand a pair of Bisons and preserve the tie.
Brown had a hand in breaking the tie in the top of the third, belting a leadoff double off the left-field fence before later scoring on an RBI single by Griffin.
Lipscomb put runners on the corners with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, but Rosas induced an inning-ending grounder to keep the Vols on top entering the fifth. And after the Vols were retired in order in the top of the frame, the Bisons used consecutive one-out singles and an RBI sacrifice fly by second baseman Caleb Joseph to knot the score at 2-2.
The Bisons once again managed a pair of one-out baserunners in the sixth, and at that point Rosas was lifted in favor of junior right-hander Aaron Everettmaking his 12th appearance of the season for Tennessee. Rosas’ night included setting career-highs in both innings pitched (5 1/3) and strikeouts (6). He earned a no-decision.
Everett was successful in squelching the Bisons sixth-inning rally, inducing consecutive flyball outs to end the inning.
Smith gave way to right-hander Charles Williams for the top of the seventh, and the junior reliever sat down Tennessee’s Nos. 1-3 hitters in order to take the 2-2 tie into the bottom of the seventh.
Everett appeared to retire the side in order in the bottom half of the seventh, but Bisons centerfielder Allen Bolden was awarded first base on a catcher’s interference call after Bolden sent a harmless flyball into centerfield.
Joseph then drew a walk, and Everett hit Bratcher with a pitch as the Vols suddenly found themselves in a two-out, bases-loaded jam. But Everett got Lipscomb first baseman Ryan Wilkins to strike out on a check swing on a 2-2 pitch, stranding three more Bisons baserunners.
Through seven full innings, both teams had managed a pair of runs on six hits.
Tennessee used a basehit by first baseman Yan Gomes and a walk by Griffin to put its first two batters on base in the eighth. Designated hitter Lockwood then ripped a line-drive single up the middle, and Gomes attempted to score the go-ahead run from second as Bolden charged on the ball in centerfield. Bolden unleashed a perfect throw to the plate, where a sliding Gomes was tagged out by Joseph, who had made a mid-game shift from the infield to catcher.
Lipscomb head coach Jeff Forehand brought Tognazzini to the mound later in the top of the eighth to kill the lingering Vols rally, and the right-hander was successful in recording an inning-ending strikeout that left three Vols on base.
Lockwood came on to pitch in the bottom of the eighth after Lipscomb used a sacrifice bunt to put a man on second with one out. Shane Simpkins greeted Lockwood with an RBI single, however, giving the Bisons their first lead of the night, 3-2. Bolden later pushed Lipscomb’s lead to two runs with an RBI single of his own, and Joseph delivered a two-run double to give his club a comfortable 6-2 lead.
The Vols faced a 6-2 deficit entering the top of the ninth, with the top of their lineup set to dig in. Griffin logged his team-high second RBI of the game that inning, and the senior finished the night 2-for-3 at the plate. He was one of four Vols with two hits in the game (each of UT’s Nos. 3-6 batters).
Former UT pitchers Wyatt Allen (1999-01) and Patrick Hicklen (2001-02, 04), both of whom were members of Tennessee’s 2001 NCAA College World Series team, were on hand to watch Tuesday’s game.
The Vols were scheduled to depart Nashville Tuesday night and head north for a game at Louisville Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET at UL’s Patterson Stadium. The Cardinals appeared in the NCAA College World Series last season and were picked by Collegiate Baseball to win the Big East championship this year.
Ty’Relle Harris (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will start on the mound for Tennessee Wednesday, while Louisville sends James Belanger (1-1, 8.00 ERA) to the hill.